University of Leicester Professor Iain Squire is UK lead in testing treatment for patients with heart failure

Leicester, UK, 15-12-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — A team from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals has played a vital role in identifying a new treatment for reducing the risk of death or emergency hospital admission among patients with serious heart problems.

Professor Iain Squire, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University and a consultant at the Leicester’s Hospitals, was the UK national lead in a five-year study of a medication that involved over 8,000 patients in more than 40 countries. Professor Squire led the research from over 250 patients at NHS hospitals.

The international team, whose research is published in NEJM, found that a pill, Sacubitril Valsartan, reduces by one-fifth the risk of sudden death among patients with heart failure, a serious heart problem.

In fact, the trial was stopped early because the evidence of overwhelming benefit had been acquired. The team concluded that the drug was, quite simply, superior to the current medication – enalapril- for treating the condition.

Professor Squire said: “The drug works by blocking the harmful effects of activation of certain biochemical pathways in heart failure, plus enhancement of the body’s own compensatory responses.”

Heart failure is an increasingly common condition, and is the end result of damage to the heart muscle, most commonly after a heart attack or high blood pressure. Heart failure is a serious condition with a prognosis at least as bad as that seen in patients with some cancers. Current treatment is based upon regular medication including drugs called ACE inhibitors. The new drug, sacubitril valsartan, was compared the ACE inhibitor enalapril, and resulted in a 16% reduction in the risk of death and a 20% reduction in the need for emergency hospital admission for heart failure. In addition, patients taking sacubitril valsartan felt better than those taking enalapril. Taken together, the results represent a very important step change in the management of heart failure.

The study was conducted by Dr Squire and his research team at Glenfield Hospital, utilising the University of Leicester/UHL facilities in the Leicester NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU).

Professor Nilesh Samani, British Heart Foundation Professor at the University of Leicester and a consultant at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “This is exactly the type of research that a partnership between a University with a strong track record in cardiovascular research and a University Hospital which sees a lot of heart disease can undertake together to benefit patients.”

The findings of the study were discussed last month at the American Heart Association scientific meeting.  The drug is currently being evaluated by the European Medicines Agency and is yet to be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The trial was funded by Novartis and published at on August 30, 2014.

A video summary is available at

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Professor Iain Squire

Professor Iain Squire




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